Possibly the largest blessing my parents bestowed upon me was to let me be me, and never knowing I was rich. To put it mildly, my parents made a lot of their wealth during years I was not cognizant the gravity money had. By the time I was old enough to understand, they had had all the fabulous nine-star experiences, and now were bored. They were now, upsettingly, craving “adventure.” Again, a serious child, I could often be found questioning most of their decisions for the betterment and survival of our family.
We would go on “road trips” in a borrowed VW buses because it would be “fun.” Surviving these trips, I had to get creative. I’d make a bed in the very back, setting up my dolls, in case we never returned, and brought my best books to read to them, hoping they’d never know what kind of danger we truly were in.
The irony here is that my parents decided to switch to an adventurous state of mind the exact moment I became aware and highly very concerned about our family’s financial safety. They decided to move from the safety of the land to a boat, floating in the water. This, along with many other questionable decisions led me to the obvious conclusion we were, in fact, poor. While my family owned real estate, something entirely ethereal to a young child craving imperative information on the status of her family’s resources, we moved from the land to the water. . . Something was up.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I made the best of our new situation. As we downsized in order to save money and “experience something new,” I tried to see the best in our new environment. All the appliances and furniture was my size, so things were easier to access if anything went wrong. The sinks, shower, doors, and cabinets were all kid size. I survived by widening my communal circle. There were other little girls also suffering their family’s downsizes that were looking for comradery. We were fortunate to find each other as playmates, as the pickings were slim on the docks we inhabited. We managed to find pleasure in the simple things.
Rowing our blow-up boats around the lake, playing Barbie, movie nights and dock fashion shows were among the activities we used to create a life away from land. My father, as I understood, “worked” downtown, and my mother owned a company called Scarlet Ribbon, where she hired models to walk around in her lingerie. All questionable vocations, and not stable for any possible future I could imagine.
While other children were vacationing to Disneyland, we were subjected to taking our home (50’ Brazilian Mahogany Chris Craft Yacht) to the San Juan Islands in Washington State and Canada. As little girls we made due with what we had, clamming playing in fresh water waterfalls, exploring tiny islands, and running around marina resorts without supervision. It was acceptable, and we made it an amazing childhood.
Due to extreme concern, I remember asking about our financial status often. The response that returned consistently was something along the lines of, “We are wealthier than anyone you’ll ever know, because we have each other.” Exactly what poor people say. They couldn’t fool me into this line of crap. I knew better.
A memory that never leaves our family’s history is the moment I returned from another “boat girl’s” boat asking why we had to be poor. The boat girls, including myself, all had something to contribute to each other. Movie nights were at SamRyan’s house. Her first and last name still combined for reasons I didn’t have, yet created and enforced the trend. Her father, Lindsay Ryan was the captain of the Proud Eagle, who had an unlimited budget for yacht supplies, so, as Lindsay ordered luxury equipment for the Proud Eagle, he would order another for his own boat. One of these double orders was a soda fountain! Movie night now had popcorn AND SODA!!!!!!!
Obviously this was normal, and the only reason we would not have this attachment was because we couldn’t afford it. I lost it. Was no one working hard enough? Were we not taking success seriously? I decided an intervention was needed. I marched home on the docks, and demanded to know why we were poor, as I was intolerant of living without the basics other boat girls had. I will never forget how confused my parents looked as I intervened with our family’s need to wildly improve, personally and professionally.
Never knowing I was rich
Looking at each other, thinking about how they lived on a 50’ Yacht, owned more real estate than the majority of people they knew, and both had fabulous businesses that paid for my private school and gymnastics. I received an answer only the best decoder could read through: “We have always been rich, love. We have each other. As long as we have each other, we will always be the wealthiest people in the world.” What a crock. I honestly believed they thought I was daft. These words are only even uttered in movies about poor people making the best of what they have. Nice try.
This lasted throughout high school. Somehow, even the midst of being dropped off at the mall with my other girlfriends, handed a credit card and left for a day, I knew this was not to be used frivolously. “Where there is great freedom, comes great responsibility.” I’d buy a latte, because, you know, the necessities.
The other gals, however, would be purchasing extravagant clothing, jewelry, and gadgets; all under the guise that their parents wouldn’t know until the statement came. This was such a foreign concept to me, as we have reviewed, I truly understood my family’s plight as it came to finances, regardless of how delusional they were about us having “each other.”
They truly wanted me to have whatever I truly wanted, and yet, I also knew how hard it was to earn money, as I had been working odd jobs for them all my life. I didn’t care if they knew or not, which they would, as my mother is the smartest woman on the planet with eyes in the back of her head, never was the desire so little as to hurt my parents, as they paid for my whole life already. How blessed and fortunate I felt in these moments because I knew my relationship with my parents was much more trustworthy than theirs. We really were rich. I got it.
When you understand the priority line item money holds, it becomes much easier to feel wealthy. Start here, and you’ll always be rich.